Definition of ability in English:

ability

noun

  • 1[in singular, with infinitive] Possession of the means or skill to do something:

    ‘the manager had lost his ability to motivate the players’
    • ‘The boy possesses the uncanny ability to eat like an elephant and remain as skinny as a stick.’
    • ‘It was, in its own way, a triumph: the message of a voiceless woman who never lost her ability to speak.’
    • ‘Britain should adopt a graduated income tax based on the ability to pay.’
    • ‘I'm convinced that he possesses the individual technical ability to be in the France team.’
    • ‘He has professional experience and has the ability to serve in any controlling body.’
    • ‘Finally, a more equal system of registration fees should be introduced, based on the ability to pay.’
    • ‘He possesses that rare ability to unlock defences to break a stalemate.’
    • ‘All you are paying for is the ability to say that you've seen it early.’
    • ‘But to my mind the most important thing by far is the ability to motivate and get the best out of people.’
    • ‘That gave them a chance and all they lacked was the ability to dominate less experienced opponents.’
    • ‘Those countries first have to have access to knowledge and the ability to use knowledge.’
    • ‘Perhaps, but how many have charisma and the ability to motivate and inspire players?’
    • ‘Mario Jardel has the potential and the ability to become a Bolton Wanderers hero.’
    • ‘Making soup requires very little in the way of culinary skills apart from an ability to chop vegetables.’
    • ‘He has skills and knowledge and an ability to work all over the world that the older men simply don't have.’
    • ‘You possess the ability to back your strong imagination with will and action.’
    • ‘He has pace, skill, an ability to shoot with both feet, and incredible shot accuracy.’
    • ‘Many sources cited in the book pay tribute to his ability to include others, to lead.’
    • ‘The one thing we need right now is enthusiasm and the ability to motivate a squad.’
    • ‘The defendant denied that, and said that Michael worked and had the ability to pay.’
    capacity, capability, potential, potentiality, power, faculty, aptness, facility, propensity, wherewithal, means, preparedness
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  • 2[mass noun] Talent, skill, or proficiency in a particular area:

    ‘a man of exceptional ability’
    [count noun] ‘pupils of all abilities’
    • ‘Does anyone think leadership ability can be quantified?’
    • ‘His only interests were games - he was of average ability in football and cricket.’
    • ‘I'd never seen her in a show before, so I had no idea the extent of her ability.’
    • ‘He's got pace, he's aggressive, and for a big lad he's got some ability.’
    • ‘This is the sort of film that doesn't really require much acting ability.’
    • ‘The company is part of an empire with proven marketing ability, especially in selling music.’
    • ‘She utilized her resources to the best of her ability.’
    • ‘It is a mark of her ability that the player has managed to remain in the world's top five despite the injuries.’
    • ‘This indicates that differences in the rate of accumulation of economic knowledge due to natural ability do not exist.’
    • ‘His mother was a woman of great ability, balanced and thoughtful.’
    • ‘His pace and score-taking ability impressed many in the final games of the season.’
    talent, skill, expertise, expertness, adeptness, aptitude, skilfulness, prowess, mastery, artistry, calibre, accomplishment
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • to the best of one's ability

    • As well as one can:

      ‘Conrad must do his job to the best of his abilities’
      • ‘If you're good at what you do, you have the right motivation and you do it to the best of your ability, people respect you and will work with you.’
      • ‘First, let me say that my story happened quite awhile ago and I shall try to the best of my ability to be as factual, and explicit as my memory will permit.’
      • ‘You defend your client to the best of your ability.’
      • ‘All you can do is train and play to the best of your ability.’
      • ‘Hanley's advice to anyone who wants to succeed in life is simple: ‘In sport, in business, in life you have to perform to the best of your ability and give everything.’’
      • ‘Unless both sides feel that you are representing their interest to the best of your ability, there is no possible way to have any kind of success.’
      • ‘The following is, to the best of my ability, a recreation of the factual debate between two of the presenters who shall go unnamed.’
      • ‘But morale has remained high - as a pro player it should never be difficult to maintain your enthusiasm because you're paid to go out there and perform to the best of your ability.’
      • ‘You were placed there to correct the situation to the best of your ability, and either your ability or your execution came up short.’
      • ‘In order to do the thing, to the best of your ability and give you the flexibility for the uncertainty that always comes about in combat.’
      • ‘If you can't, manage them to the best of your ability.’
      • ‘But if you do, it should be because you've analyzed the data, to the best of your ability and without wishful thinking; not because you want it to be so.’
      • ‘My only advice for my sister was to use her military training to the best of her ability and stay strong.’
      • ‘Enjoy your Monday - to the best of your ability anyhow.’
      • ‘We believe everything is OK as long as you don't hurt anyone, to the best of your definition of hurt, and to the best of your knowledge.’
      • ‘I think understanding when to play the exact record at the right time leads to that energy and also practicing, practicing at home and making sure that you know your material and you're able to perform it to the best of your ability.’
      • ‘Plant two trees each, and thirdly, do your duty to the best of your ability.’
      • ‘He puts so much into everything he does that those around him are inspired to perform to the best of their ability: there is such a strong desire not to let him down.’
      • ‘A firm believer in God and divinity, she says: ‘Do you work to the best of your ability and leave the rest to Him.’’
      • ‘And to the best of your knowledge as you're getting from the airport and maybe the tower, the aircraft right now is simply burning fuel?’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Old French ablete, from Latin habilitas, from habilis able.

Pronunciation:

ability

/əˈbɪlɪti/